Campaign of the Month: April 2011

Planejammer: The Spelljoined

Vedis's Journal Part 18
Sweet solid ground, how I've missed you...

Journal bar vedis

It seems strange to be inside a planet, and yet still have sun. We’ve come to a place with Aegyptos-style architecture. Kenari’s in seventh heaven, right now.

We spent a good deal of time before landing discussing how we were going to try to blend in with the locals. We even dressed Ef up in a ridiculous disguise, complete with pleated linen kilt from Mulhorand, darkened skin, and khol-rimmed eyes. Kenari was to be his ‘slave’… actually, all the females were, and I was to wear the full veil ensemble to try to look human. Apparently in Aegyptian culture, non-male is bad and non-human is worse.

In the end, it was all for naught, as the humans here have all fallen under an enchanted sleep. All that’s left are some cats and mice, some unseen servant who keeps closing the temple doors behind us and resetting the traps (golem, maybe?) and the temples themselves.

We entered into the Temple of Thoth to try to find out information about what happened to the people here. We got away with some singed scrolls (trapped bookcases with alchemists’ fire… how novel!) and I got my very own case of mummy-rot. Oh joy.

I’ve confined myself to quarters and get daily visits from the doctor (Lenata). She’s made some headway in curing me, now that the curse is removed, but there’s still the… ugh… rot to contend with. I’m absolutely hideous and I smell like putrid flesh. Simmi doesn’t mind, but everyone else is steering clear. I don’t blame them, I would steer clear of me if I could.
I’m not really contagious, but I don’t want anybody to see me like this.

So, they’ve been making forays out to the other temples, learning what they can, and I’ve been getting reports during my daily doctor’s house calls. I feel so useless. I’m trying very hard not to resent Ef Utan for opening that sarcophagus. It’s not really working. Damn fool man.

I’m bored, depressed, and hating pretty much everyone right now. I’ve been snippy with Lenata, and I’m sorry about that. No one else comes to see me and I’m taking all my frustration out on her, while she’s only helping me. I’ll apologize properly when I’m feeling better…

Vedis's Journal Part 17
Captain on Deck!

Journal bar vedis

Perhaps some good can come of being so close to nightmare… Word and I got to talking about what this place is made of, where it is Plane-wise, and of course, how that Quori happened to appear. As the cloying swirls of musty dark closed in around us, rendering vision near-impossible, we theorized and tried to find out how we might be able to see through the worst of the fog.

It seemed a simple enough test, so I climbed out onto the prow and tried to affect the waking world as I do when I’m lucid-dreaming. Sure enough, the mists parted out of the way, and Lenata could finally pilot us toward the planet without fear of crashing into anything.

The crew, so worried before, broke into applause. Finally, I can boost morale! Scared sailors are absolutely impossible to work with.

Vedis's Journal Part 16
Undesired Company

Journal bar vedis

Finally! I’ve had more than I can take of the Flogistan. I could use some SERIOUS shore leave. We came to the Sphere of Shadows to find that it got its name from the swirling, dark mists that surround and infuse it. It was hard to enter, but Lenata hopped on the helm and used her piloting skills to win us through.

Once we entered the sphere, the smoky swirls seemed to congeal, though there was no odor to them or any physical sense of what they were made of. All they seemed to do was mess with our vision (also, the crew). Dark mutterings seemed to spring up from everywhere. I tried my best to bolster morale once more, but the singing sounded eerie, even to me, amongst the half-light and darkness rising all about us.

We spent days headed toward the nearest planet on our charts to replenish air and water (if there was any water there). It was getting rather musty in our envelope. We were about halfway there and I was on watch, when all of a sudden, a horrible-looking creature appeared in the middle of the deck. I’ve always tried not to judge a person by their appearance, and so far no one had managed to “appear” on the deck without being friendly, so I hailed the (ugly, horrible, GROSS!) creature in Common.

It turned its glowing eyes on me, and in a blink was right on top of me! I narrowly missed being pinned to the deck by its barbed tail and slashed by its claws. “Guys! WE HAVE COMPANY!” I screamed loud enough to wake the dead, hoping to get aid fighting off the invading ugly. This thing was twice my size and meaner than anything I’d ever want to face alone. I manifested my mindblades and prepared to try to hold him off until the cavalry arrived.

Pulse-pounding moments passed as I traded blows with the monster. In no time at all, or ages, (who can tell in these situations?) my allies arrived on deck and gave the creature more hell than I could do on my own. As Word flew up the stairs, screaming “Guard your minds, friends, for this is the enemy of which I spoke!” I took a right hook from the beast that sent me flying across the deck into a pile of ropes.

I shook my head to clear it as the clang of Word’s glowing blade met the creature’s claws. “Take that, you creature of nightmare!” Word yelled and I spotted Kenari slipping into cover behind a door frame. A second later and I would have missed her entirely. I dragged myself to my feet and manifested new blades, ready to bring a little Maenad payback to the monster.

I got a few good slices in, while Kenari shot from cover and Word flew all over in front of the monster, taunting it and drawing its attention. Lenata arrived at the same time as Ef, though from different doorways. I had to force myself not to stop and stare when I realized that Ef was wearing Mage Armor… and nothing else.

Flashes of nightmare passed into my brain for a moment, courtesy of one black look from the ‘Quori,’ but I shook that off, too. All that mattered was keeping my friends safe from the hellish beast. It seemed poor Takero wasn’t so lucky as he began attacking the ship itself. Amidst the screams and clangs of battle, I swiped and swiped with my blades, missing the creature time after time as it wiggled just out of the way when I was about to strike. Damage done by bullets and mundane weaponry healed before my eyes on the nightmare creature’s hide, and blow after blow looked nasty one moment, but ineffectual the next.

Frustration and hopelessness filled my heart. This was a creature of the darker realms of my homeland. Why couldn’t I kill it? Why couldn’t I just will the bad dream away? With a cry of abject hatred, I slashed into the creature, sinking my blade in deep and felt for the first time the very essence of a creature from my realm touching my mind, sticking to my blade. I held onto that essence with all my might, and as I drew back my weapon, felt it being drawn out with it, into my keeping. Into me. It felt like inhaling a breath of frigid air into starving lungs: painful, yet sustaining…

In that moment, I pulled back with all my might, slipped on the black blood on the decking, and fell. Stars exploded before my vision, pain radiating out from my skull, then darkness.

I open my eyes to the strange visage of my Warforged friend. If he could have expression, I’d swear he was looking down on me with concern. “Is it dead?” I croak.

“Indeed. The creature is no more.”

“Did I kill it?” I wonder aloud, still watching stars flit about the periphery of my vision.

“Whatever you did seemed to have killed it, yes,” he replied, stoically. I might have heard a smile in his voice.

Kenari approached, still snickering. It was strange to see her from such an angle… as I watched, something caught my eye. A shadow remained after the stars had gone, revolving around my head like a planet or one of those “Ioun Stones” Sapphira’s dad had floating about his. Worried I might actually be going crazy, I pointed at it. “Do you see that?” I asked Word.

“Why yes, I do…” he replied, tracking its progress. I raised up a hand in its path and as it passed through my skin, I caught the mental image of a dark, desolate space with a little boy being terrified by gibbering monsters.

“Great trick… but you need to work on the finale,” Kenari laughs as she grips my hand to help me up. I guess she can’t see what I took out of the Quori. I shook off the remaining chill from playing with my new ‘nightmare’ and scanned the deck for more uninvited company. ‘Least that’s what I plan to tell everyone I was looking for, when really I was searching for another glimpse of naked Ef. He was nowhere to be seen.

Lenata set about healing the injured (especially me) and Kenari went back to bed. Ef arrived back on deck a short while later with all his armor on. I smothered a sigh of regret. “I’ll take my watch. You should go get some sleep,” he offered kindly.

“That’s not really necessary,” I started, sure I could finish out my watch like a big girl.

“You hit your head pretty hard,” Ef teased. He sobered, then. “You were also fighting that Quori the longest. If anybody deserves a break, it’s you.” I searched his eyes for a moment, seeing a new-found respect, and perhaps a bit of trepidation. However I killed that thing, it wasn’t normal. I nodded, feeling suddenly like a freak, and thanked him absently as I headed back to my quarters to sift through my thoughts.

I haven’t tried to play with the floating sphere around my head. I don’t like the feel of it. I know it’s mine, now, but I have no clue what it means. How did a creature of nightmare get on our deck? Dark thoughts slither in the shadows. I think I’ll distract myself by bringing up that memory of Ef wearing only Mage-Armor. The sparkling aura caressed his muscles so prettily….

Vedis's Journal Part 15
I can't wait to get the hell out of here.

Journal bar vedis
Still in the Flow. Still not dreaming. I hate this place. I can’t use fire, can’t dream, and can’t die from spacing myself to alleviate the boredom. Some times I wish I hadn’t stopped drinking absynthe so I could have SOME means of escaping these long trips. Waking hallucinatory dreams are better than no dreams at all. I think I’m losing my mind.

I’ve taken out the letter Ef gave me to read almost every day. I can’t help myself. It bothers me that I can’t… just… forget about it the way I did with those two elves. Or with that nameless lovely man who made my night all those weeks ago before we left on this miserable journey.

I’ve been bothering Lenata constantly with “Are we there yet?” inquiries. I think she might snap one day. Could be fun.

My quarters get so lonely at night, even with Simmi there to entertain/distract/infuriate me. I’ve gotten bored of rolling around in my gold coin collection. I thought that could never get old.

The waiting is KILLING me. I’m about to head on deck to try to see what I can do to stir things up.

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Kenari's Journal Part 47
The whole blasted PLACE is a trap!

Journal bar kenari

With only minor awkwardness we’re able to make our way through the portal in the chest of the clay golem to come out into a room covered in hieroglyphs with 15ft tall brass doors on one end.

“Perhaps if we follow the heartbeat we’ll be able to find what we’re looking for?” Lenata asks hopefully as she looks around.

“First things first, I’m going to check the door,” I reply as I crack my knuckles and kneel down to peer at the handles of the doors. As I am gazing over it I can’t help an odd feeling that comes over me like my stomach turning. I back up to my feet and gaze around the room only to find that the feeling hasn’t gone away… because there is something definitely wrong here.

I quickly step to Ef Utans side and whisper worriedly to him. “There’s something wrong here… I checked the door for traps… but… it’s like this whole place is a trap.”

Ef Utan swallows and nods grimly. “Well then… no sense worrying about the door.” He strides forward and pushes the door open to the hallway beyond.

As we walk down it something strange happens… the heartbeat changes rhythm and slows to a sluggish pace as we all seem to slow down to the point that Lenata actually grabs her chest and staggers against the wall. The only one who doesn’t seem to be effected is Word… it must be because he’s a construct like the golem and not humanoid like the rest of us. He lets Lenata lean on him as we continue our way down the hallway… hopefully to get ourselves out of this place.

At the end of the long hallway we come to another set of double doors. While Ef Utan may not be worried about any more traps than the one we’re obviously in, I have to follow my instincts and look. I run my hands along the edges of the doorframes and find the strangest thing when I come to a crack about eye height above the handles; there’s a poison dart trap, but it’s aimed to attack someone on the inside. Could it be to keep them from leaving? With some careful manuvering of my tools I manage to disable the trap and remove the dart for safe keeping in my pack. You never know when something like that might come in handy, after all.

I turn to the others to let them know of my discovery when the loud heartbeats stop… and Vedis keels over dead .

No!” Lenata yells out and kneels down to try and tend to her. “What in Celstians name just happened?”

The rest of us are in silent shock as we stare at our friend lying prostrate on the floor. Indeed… what in the gods name just happened to her? We’ve got to get out of here… we’ve got to get out of here before another one of us…

Suddenly the heartbeats race loudly to the point that I almost want to cover my ears… when Vedis sits up with a gasp, knocking Lenata aside in surprise.

Ef Utan exclaims something that I am sure is a creative curse in a language that I do not know as Lenata helps Vedis up and checks on her.

“I don’t know what happened,” she tells her. “I just want to get out of here…now!”

We quickly gather our scared companion and make our way through the doors to discover a familiar scene… that of the cauldron with the purple mist rising from it that we saw when we examined the other portals.

“I guess those portals all just led to different places within the pyramid,” I wonder as I look about the room.

“What are you doing?” Lenata asks Vedis and I turn around to see the Maenad with a ladle in hand as she scoops out some of the purple fluid.

“I already died once, so I don’t give a damn what this stuff does as long as it gets us out of here!” she exclaims before gulping down the fluid and disappearing in a fuzzy haze.

“What the…” Ef Utan mutters as Lenata scratches her chin.

“Strange…unless I am mistaken, I think she’s now in a gaseous state,” she speculates.

I cover my mouth as I can’t help but snicker at her words. “That would explain the hole in the floor, then,” I say after I recover.

“I believe I can detect her presence,” Word assures us before he clutches at his chest. “It seems I am not immune from the effects after all.”

“Well then… let’s see what happens!” I declare as I scoop my hand into the cauldron and sip the strange fluid. For a moment everything seems to get fuzzy… and then… it’s hard to describe. It’s almost like I am part of the air… I can’t feel my hands and feet, but I can move what I think is still myself with my mind.

Ef Utan promptly fills 3 vials with the purple fluid before the rest of them drink and we all achieve a new state of being. I concentrate and focus my mind towards going down through the hole in the ground, and after a few twists and turns find myself with the others as it deposits us in a fan shaped room with even larger doors this time.

As the potion wears off I make my way to the door to investigate the carved reliefs of fireflies as Vedis checks out the tiled mosaic on the floor that seems to be in disaray.

“Strange… I wonder what they were looking for?” Vedis asks aloud. “It looks like the pried all of the tiles up looking for something and then just set them back randomly.”

A mist that must still be Lenata passes by us and goes under the crack in a small door off to the side… and after a few moments returns to form into the a troubled cleric.

“What did you see in there?” Ef Utan asks in concern. “Are you all right?”

“Yes, I’m ok… there is a large table in there with four thrones around it and a set of cards in the middle… almost like they just left the game and were coming back.”

“What’s got you spooked, then?” Vedis asks.

“It… it just left me feeling a little off, I guess,” she mutters as she looks away.

“Shall we open the big doors, then? I have to admit I am curious…” I offer as I gesture towards the large handles. “I checked them, and it doesn’t look like they are trapped.”

“By all means… after you, Kenari.”

“You’re such a gentleman, Ef…” I reply with a wry grin as I push the doors open to find another room with thrones… this time around a large basin of water instead of a table.

The rest of the group shuffles in behind me and as we seperate to investigate when the doors suddenly close shut behind us and the walls of the room fall away like backdrops to reveal that we are now on a plateau with steep cliffs looking out over dense tropical forests.

“Vedis… tell me this isn’t another one of those extended dream sequences like we suffered before,” Ef Utan mutters as he draws his sword. The Maenad concentrates for a moment and shakes her head.

“Lenata?” he turns to ask the cleric of Celestian for her input, who mutters a few words before her eyes begin to glow.

“There’s definitely magical influences going on here,” she replies after a moment as she strides forward to look at the thrones and water basin. “The walls are still there… they are just emanating a heady aura of illusion magics. As to the basin… it has something to do with clairsentience.”

“Ooo… maybe it will give me a vision like that space flower did!” Vedis exclaims excitedly as she sits in one of the thrones. “Come on, guys… sit down so we can see if we can activate this thing!”

The rest of us warily sit down in the thrones after I check them for traps as Word hovers above the water basin. “I suggest that we all focus are minds on one question.”

“How about where the Witchlight Marauder Key is?” Lenata offers. We all nod and close our eyes to focus on the question as the waters begin to bubble and swirl before Words eyes.

“Strange… I see a dark and dingy circus with people made from wax, a rabbit with clothes wielding a broadswords, and a swirling black and purple design,” he informs us. The image fades as we open our eyes and shake ourselves from the trance-like state.

“That kind of reminds me of a story I heard about as a child of ‘The Harrowing.’ It’s a demi-plane of dreams where stories come to life,” says Vedis.

A black and purple swirling design… where have I seen that before… that crystal with the cards in it!

I stand up and pull the odd crystal from my sash and peer at it excitedly to find that my memory served me right… there is indeed a swirling black and purple design on the backs of the cards encased within the crystal. Waitaminute….cards…

“Hey Lenata, you said there was a deck of cards in that side room, right? Did you get a good look at them?”

“No I… I did not… I am sorry,” she mutters evasively. I wonder what was in that room that upset her so much? Now I definitely have to check it out…

“While we’re here, let’s concentrate on the Dream Stone and see if we can learn anything,” Vedis suggests. With a shrug and a nod we all close our eyes again and focus on the question as the pool of water churns.

“I see a a circular room with stairs at the four quadrants, but nothing in the room,” says Word. “The floor is a smooth expanse and unlike anything we’ve seen in the tomb… perhaps, given the size of it, the floor itself is part of the Dream Stone? Could that be why they were removing the tiles in the other room?”

“Okay, one more, guys… let’s try focusing on the missing brain of Melchot. Gross, I know… but if he’s still alive somehow…”

“There’s a large archway into a wide room with no doors and a dozen iron bound chests. There is a large stone mantle with a red gem and another red gem spinning inside it.”

“Curious… I shall have to meditate on these visions when next I pray to Celestian,” Lenata mutters to herself.

“Since we know the walls and the doors are still there, I’m going to go check those tiles and see what’s underneath!” says Vedis.

“I’m going to see what’s in that other room… because I want a look at those cards!” I say to myself as we all feel our way back to the double doors and return to the previous room.

“I guess I’ll keep myself busy by watching all your backs so you don’t get killed,” Ef Utan mutters to himself.

After a quick check to the small door that Lenata passed through earlier in her gaseous form, I am able to discern that there’s nothing more than a simple lock and no discernable traps. I open it gingerly and peer in to see just what she described before… a large table surrounded by four thrones with a deck of cards in the middle of it.

It’s not till I step into the room that a feeling comes over me that I should just take the cards for myself and leave this pyramid and these people to their own fates. Besides… I’m sure the Clerics of Asmodeous would compensate me greatly for turning them in. Think of the adventures that kind of reward would fund! I could get my own ship, even!

With a sly grin I snatch the cards up and stroll confidently through the door… to find the feeling suddenly gone again. The Hells… is that what effected Lenata? Did she suddenly find herself going against everything she believed in because of that room? No wonder she didn’t want to talk about it…

“Um…well…” I clear my throat as I look at the cards I grabbed. “It looks like these cards have the same designs on the backs of them as the ones encased in the crystal,” I offer.

“No luck with the tiles, unfortunately,” Vedis replies. “I get the feeling that others had the same idea.”

“Well, I could always try using the crystal and see what happens… " I offer as I remove it from my sash pocket and stroke it with my thumb.

Suddenly there is a burst of light in front of me as a swirling vortex opens into a portal that pulls the cards out of my other hand and into its center. I grab onto the edge of the table as the pull grows stronger and the others are sucked through the portal one by one, when suddenly it occurs to me: I’m the one who opened it, for Basts sake… I should just go through it already!

And so with a whispered prayer to Bast I close my eyes and let go…

Kenari's Journal Part 46
Pardon me, but you seem to have a portal in your chest...

Journal bar kenari

Ugh… it smells like a charnal house in here.

No wonder… as I come up to the edge of a pit I can just make out the piles of bodies strewn below. Poor fools… may the Gods be more merciful than your masters were.

Vedis calls out that there are paths along the sides of the pit if we’re careful. As we’re about to make our way along it, however, a dark colored smoke begins to form on the other side into a large ape-like creature with 4 arms and covered in blue hieroglyphs. With a flash of energy Word teleports toward the ceiling and shoots at it with his crossbow… but unfortunately it goes whizzing by it as it charges down the path towards us.

“Duck!” Ef Utan yells and I hit the ground just as a trio of daggers whiz past me to land with a satisfying crunch into its forehead. With a scream the ape disolves back into smoke… but it’s not fading away. In fact… I think it’s reforming.

RUN!” I yell to the others as I sprint through the smoke that is now taking the shape of a large dog once again covered in blue hieroglyphs. I can only hope the others are following me as I make my way down the hall into a large semi-circular room. Thankfully I am quickly joined by the others as we catch our breath and draw our weapons for the oncoming attack…. but strangely enough, the ghostly dog rears up and stops before the entrance to the room.

“Not that I’m complaining, now…” Ef Utan mutters, “but why isn’t it attacking?”

“Who seeks to enter the Heart of Anselata?” a voice booms out behind us.

“Probably because of that guy,” I whisper as I cringe and turn around to see what must be a 10ft. tall golem in mummy wrappings wearing a golden Pharoh death mask sitting in a throne against the far wall in the midst of an arc of pillars.

“We are but humble travellers seeking to escape a great evil outside your gates, my lord,” I reply and bow humbly. From the growl and the quickening stomp of footsteps, however… I don’t think he bought it. I quickly twirl to the left and just manage to pull my tail out of the way as the enraged mummy charges past.

“I am here to protect the gods of the Four Lands of Gallarion, and you shall not defeat me!” he bellows as he clenches his fists and turns to face us.

“Gallarion…” Lenatta mutters next to me. “I remember now… Anselata is the name of their lost temple for their stone of power!”

“We mean you and your gods no harm, I promise you! The goddess Ma’at has sent us on a quest to this very pyramid that we might find answers as to why your people are in an eternal sleep,” I try to explain to him as Ef Utan clenches his sword tensely in preparation for the next charge.

“I know not of the gods of which you speak, strangers… if you will not leave, you will face my wrath!”

“Better one of you than 20 of them outside,” Ef Utan mutters as Vedis runs up to us excitedly.

“Guys, guys… I think I saw a glimmer of something when he moved near that column… he’s got the entrance to a portal in his chest!”

“So much for avoiding this fight to get to the portal then,” I mutter in disappointment. “I wonder if that mask has anything to do with it? You guys keep him busy while I check.”

“Yeah… no problem,” Ef Utan mutters back as the mummy charges again, this time slamming his fist into the wall as we all dive to the sides.

I quickly take the opportunity to get a closer look at the mask while he’s trying to get his fist out of the wall. Hmmn… there’s a glyph on the mask denoting the four gods he spoke of… could it be a magical focus for the portal?

Behind me I hear Ef Utan muttering over a scroll he’s pulled out as a tingling sensation rolls over my fur. “Whatever you’re going to do, do it now,” he warns. “The spell is helpful, but brief.”

Ok then… no time like the present.

The mummy frees himself from the wall and return charges in a rage. I take the opportunity to spring directly at him and rip the mask off of his face in a neat flip over his head as I feel the energy of the spell supporting me. I land in a crouch on one knee and quickly look over the mask to see if there are any command words. Unfortunately all I find is a symbol for Horus and glyphs that say “Servant of the Gods.”

“You dare !” the mummy yells as he stops his charge and turns to me. “Return to me what is mine!”

Damn. Plan B.

“Come and get it!” I taunt as I wave the mask in his direction, keeping one eye on the others preparing for their attack. Perhaps I can keep him distracted long enough for the others to get some good hits on him.

“I believe I see the portal Vedis spoke about!” Word says excitedly as the mummy nears one of the pillars again. He then teleports in a flash of light and before we know it Word is half sticking out of the creatures chest before he’s grabbed and thrown into Lenata as they both get slammed against the wall.

“No, you overgrown rag doll, pay attention to me if you ever want your mask back!” I growl in frustration as my friends fall into a heap on the floor.

Suddenly Efs sword transforms into a warhammer as he slams into the creatures legs with it and his battle mug. With three great whopping smacks he slams into its legs and hips before striking it with an uppercut and knocking him against the wall. Vedis then follows up with a psi blade searing his arm off as Ef proceeds to crush his hip with a hefty kick.

Word pleads with the golem to reconsider and I mutter a prayer to whatever gods might be listening that the mummy seems to have had enough as it sits against the wall. “I yield, strangers… it seems I am no match for your strength.”

“You are an amazing creature… we truly did not wish to hurt you. Honestly… we only want to use the portal in your chest that we may find the stone from our godly quest and help their people against the evil that awaits outside your walls,” I say as I kneel down beside him and return his mask. “If you would just let me take a look, it seems that different portals are activated when you’re next to these columns. Let us find where we need to go and we shall leave you ready to fight the real evil that is coming.”

The creature nods in resignation and we take turns investigating the portals in his chest to find…

A green cauldron with purple mist eminating from it…

A room covered in hieroglyphs with large brass doors nearly 15 ft tall…

A temple room with a large set of scales…

A hall with 4 large columns covered in snake decorations…

A room covered in hieroglyphs telling the story of a beggar, but otherwise empty.

We finally agree to check out the second portal, as upon further investigation we could hear a slow distant drum beat reminiscent of a heart. Recalling the messages on the map that the EIN gave us, it might be our best bet.

Before we go, Lenata does her best to repair the wounded golem with the aid of her god and Word hands him a small bottle that is seemingly “Oil of Repair.”

“I hope that your gods watch over you, my brother… for there is great evil that seeks to follow us into the unknown. May this oil help you in your times ahead.” He claps the golem on the shoulder and nods before turning to the rest of us.

“Shall we?”

Kenari's Journal Part 45
Just call me Moses...

Journal bar kenari

It’s all agreed that we need to rest up and plan before heading into the portal. Considering my Ring of Sustenance is still functioning, I take my extra time to do some experimenting with the items I found amidst the goo that was once the Imaskari wizard. From the intricate carvings and runes, I can tell they are definitely high quality and magical… but any attempts to activate them have left me scratching my head. For all I can tell the items work … there’s just nothing happening. Hmmn… perhaps they require something I cannot provide… like a spell, perhaps?

After a few hours time Ef Utan and Lenata have woken up, so I tell them what I have discovered and my theories about their uses.

“Okay, let me try a basic missile spell and see what happens,” Lenata replies as she dons the amulet and points toward a nondescript rock. Balls of light appear at her fingertips and launch into the rock with a streak of light and a shattering of stone.

“Hmmn… interesting,” Lenata mutters.

“Do tell,” I chuckle after I brush the dust out of my fur.

“It seems that the amulet increases the strength of my spells! A mighty handy device to have, to be sure,” she answers as she gazes at it fondly.

I smile to myself as I can already tell what’s going to happen next. “Tell you what,” I say as I step next to her and put an arm around her shoulder, “I’ll give you that amulet if you let me have that weird die you found back on the Demiplane of Dread…”

“The Fist of Emmercol? It is yours,” she responds and quickly pulls the stone out of her pouch and hands it to me. “It is a device of offensive magics, so be careful,” she calls over her shoulder as she wanders off to test her new treasure some more.

Excellent! I grin and slip the Fist of Emmercol into my sash pocket as I saunter over to Ef Utan trying out the other treasure I found. “Nice rod,” I joke as he peruses the crystal.

“Heard that one before,” he snorts before grabbing the crystal in one hand and casting a spell in the other. With a flash the traditional crackling of electricity from his spell turns into licks of flame. “Curious… it seems to change the energy of ones spell to Fire. This could come in handy!”

“It’s yours,” I say as I clap him on the shoulder. “Just don’t say I never give you anything!”


When everyone has finally awoken from their much needed rest, I analyze the portal once again while the others feed themselves with rations.

It’s dark… the place is lit with many torches as slaves dig into the night under the light of four moons. Scarlet-robed monks ride in seats attached to 14ft tall clay golems.

“Okay, here’s my suggestion,” I say as I refocus on the rest of them. “Ef Utan, you and Lenata would probably have the best bet disguising yourselves to fit in with the 10th Pitt soldiers; if you can dim the goodie glow a bit, anyway.” Ef Utan nods and with a blink his shiftweave transforms into a black mercenary outfit. Lenata blushes slightly and then mutters a prayer to her god.

“Vedis and Word, you two would probably do best coming in from above. It would be too difficult trying to disguise yourselves, and besides… no one ever looks up .”

“What will you do?” Vedis asks worriedly.

“Like it or not, I’m amongst my people now,” I grin half-heartidly as my shiftweave transforms into my traditional Mulhorand temple dress. “I will make my way through the slave camps and see what I can discover before we all meet at the entrance to the pyramid they are trying to dig up. Does that sound ok to everyone?”

“Sounds like a plan,” Ef Utan agrees as he gets up to tell Takero where to bring the ship.

“As our plans go anyway,” Vedis snorts.

“All right then,” I say to myself as I work my fingers over the runes of the portal to open it and stamp my foot like the Imaskari for effect. “We’ve got a stone to find!”


The gut-wrenching effects of portal jumping have almost become second nature to me now. After a moment we land on the other side of the portal behind a medium sized sand dune and hide as a female cursing in Mulhorandi rides by on top of her Clay Golem.

“Okay, let’s stick to the plan,” I turn and whisper to the others. “We’ll all hopefully meet up at the pyramid and figure out how to get inside before the rest of them. Good luck!” The others nod and I slip into the shadows of the dunes to make my way through the slave encampments as Vedis and Word take off overhead and Ef Utan and Lenata make their way through the 10th Pitt camp.

As I slip between the tents of the Mulhorandi slaves I notice a teenage boy getting a water bucket away from the others. I take a chance to gather some information and step out of the shadows to say hello. “Don’t be afraid… my name is Kenari and I have come from Mulhorand to help free its people! Is there anything you can tell me about what is going on here?”

The young boy looks me up and down, taking in my traditional dress and tattoos. “Lady Kimrasa of the 10th Pitt is running this dig. They found the entrance to the pyramid earlier, but every time they send in slaves none of them come back.”

“What they are looking for is very dangerous… your people should leave here as soon as you can. Let me and my friends enter the pyramid, and perhaps we can keep your people and theirs from falling prey to its magics.”

“And where would we go? They circle this sphere with their great ships… we would die before we ever made it home,” the slave replies doubtfully.

“Not so, for we have destroyed the 10th Pitt ships!” I answer proudly before remembering to whisper. “You have the word of Kenari Sanura!”

" The Kenari Sanura?" a female voice asks from the shadows. Crap… I got so wrapped up in trying to help them that I wasn’t paying attention. The female walks out of the shadows to reveal a young Elven woman with bronze skin and adorned with gold. “Have you come with the others from the stories?”

I take a step back in surprise. “There are stories about us? Which ones might these be?”

“The ones the Seekers tell…” she responds then shows me her ring with the same seal that I wear on my lapel as a pin. “I am the Mithral Scarab from Galarion, and the stories of you and your friends have spread amongst the stars. If you are all here and you say that you have removed the ships, then I for one believe you. I will try and rally the others if you can tell us can we get out of here safely.”

I smile in relief and pull the vial of Dvati blood from my sash as I point towards the dune we landed behind. “Take this vial and head to that dune. Behind it is where the portal opened up when we arrived. If you sprinkle this special blood over the area, it should activate the portal and take you back to the asteroid gate. Our ship the Nomad should be circling. Signal them and tell our 1st mate Hatuk that we freed you and are helping you get home. May Ma’at guard your path, my friends.”

I place the vial in her hand and grasp it briefly before slipping back through the shadows to make my way towards the pyramid entrance. As I peer over the edge of the hole in the sand I can’t help but shudder… as it turns out they are using Ankheggs to do the heavy digging. Ugh… giant bugs…

My head shoots up suddenly as I swear I am hearing Lenata whisper in my ear. We are at the bottom of the stairs to the pyramid and have taken out the guards… hurry!

I spring over the side and slide down the sand to the bottom of the pyramid to find Lenata and Ef Utan dressed in black with guards sleeping soundly at their station. “Where are the others?” I whisper.

“Over here,” Vedis answers as she and Word come around the opposite corner.

“The slaves told me that many have been sent into the pyramid, but none have come out. Which means…”

“Which means that you get to go first, Kenari.” Ef Utan says as he claps a hand on my shoulder. “I have the utmost confidence in your skills to get us through the traps ahead. Because if you can’t, we’re all dead meat.”

Gulp. “Hey, it’s me!” I joke with a smile as I inch my way into the dank and moldy darkness.

Kenari's Journal Part 44
The chase is on...

Journal bar kenari

Three days into our journey to the home of the Dream Stone, the Imaskari wizard decides to share some more information with us that makes the mind boggle.

“The Dream Stone is actually a solid pyramid shape about 400 feet on one side.”

Woah… how in the 9 Hells are we supposed to move something like that from this sphere?

Before we can ask him more about it, however, he turns to look out to the stars and begins to mutter in Common. “Strange… it doesn’t seem to be here.”

“What?” Ef Utan exclaims as he walks up beside the wizard and looks out to the stars.

“There,” he replies as he points out to a dark patch in the sky. “That is where the Dream Stone should be.”

As we get closer I notice something that I hadn’t picked up on before: all of the stars are pyramid shaped here. Amazing… could the Imaskari have made this whole sphere? I simply must read more about them!

Eventually we make it near to the inside edge of the sphere only to see that we’re not alone. Dozens of Spelljammer ships have entered the sphere and anchored themselves in this area. Climbing up into the rigging, I do my best to get a closer look at the flags and banners they are flying. I can just make out a large X on one of them.

“10th Pit,” I spit out as I land back on the deck with the others. “These are the evil ones we spoke about, oh Lord.” I say as I turn to the Imaskari. “Verily, they deserve to be shown your wrath for thinking they could use your creation for evil.”

“Presumptuous child,” the wizard snorts. He then turns and whispers into his cupped hands before gesturing towards the ships. After a moment he acts like he heard something and then before I could even blink he’s casting lightning towards the ships and cutting the smaller wasps to pieces.

“Forward!” he commands as Hatuk relays it through the communication tubes.

We move in closer through the rubble till more ships come into view. I barely get a chance to even look at them before I’m having to shield my eyes from the fireball blast ripping them apart.
Thank the gods that he’s on our side for now!

We move through the rest of the scraps till we finally reach our destination… only to find an arrangement of asteroids where the Dream Stone should have been. Looking out at them I can just pick out some kind of figures out on the rocks. Across from the grouping of rocks is one last spelljammer. This one seems to be the flagship of the group, as it is much bigger and flying a white flag.

The Imaskari squints at it and sneers. “I’ll be right back.” With a flick of his hand he then rises up into the air and floats over to the other ship.

“Nice trick,” Ef Utan says with a whistle. “I’d like to learn that one sometime.”

“Yeah,” I chuckle as heads begin to go flying on the other ship. “I hear it’s a real killer.”

The wizard then floats back to rejoin us as and stumbles in pain on the deck as the other ship explodes behind him. I’m not sure how I feel about his rampant destruction. Sure, I’m very happy that they are gone… but I can’t help but feel that we’ve missed out on some important information gathering with their total destruction; not to mention some worthwhile salvage operations.

“Take us to the rocks,” he commands before sitting down on a pile of rope to rest.

Ef Utan relays the command and then summons Takero and Hatuk to him. “You two, I want you to take one of the paddle boats and see what you can salvage from the wreckage. Perhaps we can find a helm or two?” Hatuk grins and slaps Takero on the back. “Be careful, you two.”

Once we move closer we can see that the figures are actually statues… but there does seem to be a figure strapped to a rock. “Come on, let’s check it out!” I cry as I leap over the side onto the rocks below.

“There is a planar overlap here amongst these asteroids,” the wizard declares as he walks around the stones.

I’m only barely listening, however… as my attention has been grabbed by the corpse strapped to a boulder. A Dvati corpse… and missing the top of his head. Eww… and his brain.

“Lenata?” I call to our cleric. “This looks like it might have been Melchot, that Dvati sorcerer we were told about by Parvatta. Do you think you could ask your god for help to speak to his spirit?”

“I will try. Give me a moment.” She clasps her hands together and prays… but then looks up in disappointment. “I’m sorry… the spell doesn’t seem to be working.”

“Are you unable to talk to your god here?” Ef Utan asks as the wizard snorts.

“It’s not that… it’s more like… like he’s not dead.” she replies nervously.

“He definitely looks dead to me,” Vedis grimaces as she notices the partially chopped off skull and turns a little green. “Unless… you don’t think that… his brain could be alive somewhere?”

“Disgusting, but not something I would put past those Illithid,” I answer as the Imaskari wizard stomps his foot and large portal activates in the middle of the rock.

“Tell me slave… what do you see?” he asks as he beckons me over with his hand.

I defocus my eyes and let the information from the portal flow through me. “This portal leads to one of the inner planets and is opened by the blood of a Dvati. I see… burning sands, a pyramid at the bottom of a bowl of sand, with nasty looking humans and Mulhorandi directing slaves to dig it out.”

“Very good,” he replies with what I swear was almost a grin. “If you are to serve me, however, you need to be quicker.” He then reaches out and grabs my head with his hands, his two thumbs meeting in the middle of my forehead. I let out a small yelp of surprise and pray that he doesn’t kill me before my brain is flooded with images and words. It’s like his hands are ripping into my brain and taking away the parts he doesn’t need so that he can replace my knowledge with something new.

“There…it is done.”

“I…I…” I shake my head and grab my temple as my thoughts rejoin into their proper places. “I thank you, my Lord.” I then bow and grab one of my empty flasks out of my pouch as I approach the Dvati corpse.

“Oh gods… what are you doing?” Vedis asks in disgust as I find a spot where the blood is still dripping from his still fresh wounds.

“Just being practical, you know. If Dvati blood is the key to this portal, we better have some handy!”

“Good idea,” Ef Utan replies and joins me with his own flask.

“Eww.. you guys are just gross! I’m going to check out the statues over there… away from you two.”

Suddenly a gong sounds from nowhere and rings out seemingly across the whole sphere. “You are the one to blame for the plight of my people, wizard!” a voice calls out before the avatar of Ma’at appears in the middle of the circle… and squishes the Imaskari wizard to a pulp under her sandal. “He has taken you as far as he is useful,” she declares to the rest of us. “Your quest is not finished, however you are now on your own.” She then disappears as suddenly as she arrived.

“I think I’m going to be sick,” I hear Vedis moan as we see what’s left of the Imaskari wizard spread about the circle. “Oh gods, Kenari… what are you doing now?”

What?” I answer as I gather some of the Imaskari’s blood into a vial. “This is rare stuff! You never know what a wizard might pay for it as a spell component! Besides… there might be other valuable stuff left in this mess.”

Bingo! This amulet looks nice… and there seems to be some kind of crystal rod strapped to the inside of his thigh. Heh… if I hadn’t seen all his power I might have thought he was compensating for something.

“These statues… I think these are of the demon lord Asmodeus!” Lenata says in shock as she joins Vedis.

“The one over there looks different, though,” Vedis points out. The thing over there is covered in snakes!"

Snakes… Mulhorand… and now the second demon lord statue we’ve encountered in all of this. Bast protect us. “I think that one is Set,” I reply in dread. “He is the god of evil and destruction for the Mulhorandi people.”

“What does this all mean?” Vedis asks worriedly.

I shrug my shoulders as I look at the portal. “It means we’re on our own… and in it deep.”

Kenari's Journal Part 43
Let sleeping Imaskari lie...

Journal bar kenari

After the feeling of tearing and stretching of my being that I have to admit I am starting to get used to, we exit the portal in the side of the circular room I saw and slide unceremoniously down the curved wall into a pile in front of what looks like a scene out of a bedtime story. Before us is a stone pedestal surrounded by brass lamps and cloying incense… with an odd sleeping figure upon it. Odd, because I’ve never seen anyone like him before. He almost reminds me of the Dvati, but also seems Elven. His skin is stony, and his hair and clothes are both long, flowing and black.

As I look closer at the pedestal I can see an inscription. Further study reveals what I think is his name: Kari Sunken Saruh and the words He who can turn the planes to his own will . Could this be the “Portal Lord” that the inscription spoke of? If so, chances are we better not wake him up, or else we might not get out of here again.

“He seems to be effected by sleep and preservation magics,” Lenata offers as she studies the smoky crystal surrounding him.

“I guess he won’t mind if I check out his stash then,” I say with a grin as I find a secret compartment along the other side. “Ooo… must be good,” I mutter to myself as I disable the tiny phase dart inside the lid. My eyes widen even farther as I open the drawer. “Well lookie here… a puzzle box! I haven’t seen one of these since I was a child!” I turn it over in my hands as I look at the intricate patterns until I notice a small crack under one of the reliefs.

“Aha!” With a press of the relief the box twists and turns upon itself till it opens and reveals…. a very old book bound in grey hide with brass and silver fittings. I mentally slap my hand as my first instinct was to open it and immediately start reading. Bad kitty… check for traps first! Lo and behold… the pretty thing had a rather nasty fireball spell inscribed on the latch. “Shame on you, mister… knowledge should be shared, don’t you know that?” I scold the sleeping figure.

“What did you find?” Ef Utan asks as he and Lenata look over my shoulder curiously.

“Well, from what I can tell,” I say as I carefully scan through the pages, “this book is called Lessons of the Amethyst Soldality and seems to be about ‘trans-dimensional penetrative dweomers.’ I could be wrong… but I think in plain speak they mean ‘spells that work with portals’?” I look over my shoulder at Lenata and can practically see her eyes light up with excitement.

“May I read it?” Lenata asks with barely restrained excitement.

“Just make sure you pass it over when you’re done,” Ef Utan jokes. “In the meantime, I suggest we set up camp. There doesn’t seem to be anything here but our sleeping friend, so this may be the only chance we get for a while.”

“I’m going to see if I can pick up any surface thoughts or information from him,” Vedis replies.

“Just make sure you don’t touch him,” Ef Utan says before he pulls out a scroll of Vigilant Slumber and casts it. “Just in case he wakes up before we do,” he offers before setting out his bedroll and getting comfortable.

Eventually books are put away and everyone but Word and I get some rest. These days I truly am grateful for that ring I found so long ago now… because I’m not sure I’d like what I might dream about. It’s as I’m trying to shake the visions of Bast out of my head that I notice something odd out of the corner of my eye… red specks forming in the wall. I crawl on my hands and knees over to the wall and take a closer look as the specks get bigger and begin to form a hieroglyph…. a hieroglyph of the letter K. Rearing back in shock I reach out and grab Words arm.

“Do you see that?” I ask him nervously. I then crawl over to Lenata and shake her. “Wake up, cleric! You need to make the ghosts go away again!”

“Hmmn…what?” Lenata mumbles as she wipes the sleep from her eyes. “Okay… give me a minute.”

“Kenari’s description seems to be correct,” Word tells the others as they begin to wake up. “Something that seems to be like blood is forming names in the wall.”

“So make it go away already!” I exclaim as I notice that an E has now formed after the K.

Lenata closes her eyes and concentrates, and moments later a positive wave of energy radiates from her through us and into the walls. Thankfully it seems to have the same effect as it did on our ship… as the writing has disappeared.

“Strange,” Ef Utan mutters as he investigates the wall through his Void Lens.

“What did you find, Ef?” Vedis asks.

“While the blood writing has gone away… it seems that there is another kind of writing all over these walls. I can’t tell what it is, though.”

“Ooo… let me see, please!” I ask, eager to have something else to distract me. I quickly scoot over to him and take his Void Lens. “Amazing,” I mutter after a few minutes. “The walls seem to be covered in Ancient Imaskari… almost like this whole room is a journal of what they did here!”

“Um…hey… guys?” Lenata mutters nervously. “It seems that when I got rid of that spirit it kind of… I don’t know… weakened the structural integrity of this whole room?”

The others look around and notice that the plaster of the walls is starting to crack and flake. Me… I am too absorbed in the text. If we are going to have to leave here, I want to know as much as I can first! Besides… it may offer some knowledge on how to get out of here anyway. As I scan through it I find a rather interesting passage that makes me gasp in excitement… for they are describing a ritual where they created the Dream Stone! From what I can grasp, they lost many of their people in the making of it, and tried to remove it when they noticed the side effects starting to effect the sphere. When the orbits stopped they even tried to leave… but I can’t quite tell if they made it or not.

“My mending spells aren’t helping!” Lenata shouts out as she runs her hands along the wall.

“All I can see is the color green through the cracks,” says Vedis. “Do you think we’re in the green pyramid sun? If this room falls apart… are we going to be in space?”

“There’s only one person who can answer that,” Lenata answers as she walks up to the pedestal and touches the smoky crystal around the sleeping figure, causing it to disappear with a small fizzle. She stands back quickly as the sleeping figure opens his eyes and sits up.

Oh crap… think fast, Kenari! I hurry over to the groggy Imaskari as he asks how long he’s been asleep and do my best to explain to him in his language who we are and what we’re doing here. I wince inwardly as I notice his reaction to the knowledge that I am from Mulhorand.

“Why did they send a slave?” He asks angrily as he grabs me and lifts me up into the air as he stands to his full height.

“I am not of the Mulhorandi people, oh Lord… I was kidnapped by them and forced to be a slave!”

He grunts in response and tosses me to the floor before walking up to the cracking walls. With a wave of his hand the walls shatter and fall away to show shining green space with black wisps of fog strewn through it. He stares at it intently and grows silent… so I take the opportunity to quickly and quietly return his book to his pedestal. I just hope Lenata got to read enough of it.

Okay… the Mulhorandi people were slaves to the Imaskari. If that’s what it takes to keep this guy happy till we get out of here…

“Is there anything we can do for you oh Lord?” I ask meekly as I kneel beside him.

“You came here with a ship, yes? You will take me to it so that I may return to Imaskari.”

Shit. I mutter a prayer to any god that is listening that I can survive the next few minutes. “Imaskari fell almost 10,000 years ago by our time, oh Lord.” I swear I can hear his knuckles cracking as he clenches his fists.

“You will still take me to your ship,” he states coldly as he turns to me. “Where did you leave it?”

I hurriedly try and describe the Egyptos city as best as I can and gesture to Ef Utan for the map that the EIN gave us. “Here, oh Lord, on this planet,” I reply as I point to the map.

He grunts in acknowledgment and waves his hand over us… and suddenly we’re back in front of the Great Pyramid.


After we shake off the shock of the teleportation we make our way back to the ship to find a rather excited Hatuk.

“There you all are! You were gone for like 18 hours while it’s been scary quiet around here.”

Wait… what? It seems the Dream Stone might be affecting the passage of time around here too.

“We have a new guest who is going to accompany us, Hatuk,” Vedis explains to her 1st mate.

“What kind of guest?” He asks cautiously as the Imaskari grunts in pain and holds his head for a moment.

“The ‘really powerful and scary kind that we want to keep happy at all times’ kind,” I reply in Common before turning to the Imaskari. “Let me show you to quarters, oh Lord.”

Once I get him seated in a nice quiet room I take a chance and try to glean some more information from him by telling him of our experiences in this sphere.

“Ah yes… the cats… they were creations of ours that live 800 years, you see… and not the mere pittance that you assumed. That is why your calculations of time past were wrong. As to your plight… I cannot take on a god alone. I must rest and think on this… so please see that I am not disturbed.”

I bow and leave to get a guard for the door to his room. “Don’t try to talk to him… just make sure no one goes in there, and come get me if he wakes up, ok? I’m going to be in my quarters.”
After another potentially near death experience like that, I need some cuddle time.


The next morning I am woken by a knock on the door and a brief “He’s up!” I kiss Dassam on the temple and carefully slide out of our hammock so he doesn’t wake before making my way to the Imaskari.

“How can I help you this morning, oh Lord?” I ask as I bow to him.

“Please sit, slave… but make sure you avoid the couch by the 4th bookcase,” he replies as he gestures to the other chairs. I sit near him as he continues. “You say that the gods are refusing to let you leave until you solve the riddle of their sleeping people, yes? The sleeping curse inflicted on them is due to the effects of the Dream Stone created by my people. From what I can tell, it should be the star that is the eye of the fish constellation on your map.”

Waitaminute… the Dream Stone is still here? That means… the one that we were chasing after was a decoy?!

“The longer one is in contact with the Dream Stone, the thinner the barrier becomes between this dimension and the one of Dreams. If we remain in this sphere too long, we too are in danger of falling to the Eternal Sleep… for anything that lives is subject to it. Beings, plants, animals, and the planets themselves.”

“If I may ask, oh Lord… if your people left, why are you still here?” Okay… wrong question… his eyes narrow for a moment and then he continues as if I hadn’t interrupted him.
“If the Dream Stone is taken into the phlogiston, the effects would be quieted. Unfortunately… more than 8 weeks into the flow and it will explode.”

He then stands and walks with purpose up onto the deck. I do my best to follow behind him and hear him mutter to himself as he stares into the sky.

“Time to reclaim my property.”

Kenari's Journal Part 42
He who manages to run away...

Journal bar kenari

Walking around the edge of the dome we manage to find a strange shaped circular door. A quick check revealed no traps, so I carefully open the door and step to the side in case anything wants to come out. After a few moments there is nothing but silence and the smell of rotted fruit and meat, however.

Lenata has the better night vision thanks to her heritage, so she volunteers to check the dome first. She gingerly steps into the dome to find herself ankle deep in mist and squishing mud. “I don’t like this… I’m getting a really bad feeling here.” She then rears back out of the dome and grabs her head in pain as I throw my last thunderstone into the dome and close the door.

Once Lenata and the rest are ready I open the door to find myself face to face with the ghostly image of a well-dressed Scro who promptly puts his arm through my chest. I rear back and fall to the ground as I am overcome with images of a disappointed Bast trying to crush me underfoot.

“That isn’t me anymore!” I yell out as I writhe in pain on the ground. Oh Gods it hurts…once I relied on you to tell everyone that I was worthy of love and respect, Bast… but no longer! I am worthy in my own eyes now!

“Damn, it’s an animated dream!” Vedis yells out as her hand begins to glow and she rips into the image of the Scro. It howls and screeches in pain as Ef Utan attacks it with his swords and Lenata enchants her guns for the next attack.

I finally make it to my feet and wield my claws as I manage to shake off the last of the feelings of helplessness that the Scro induced in me. With a growl I pounce and claw at it as Vedis strikes its other side with her psi blades. We then step back as Ef Utan lunges at it with his swords. The Scro absorbs part of the strike and steps back with its weapon. “In the name of Dukash!” it yells.

“In the name of Celestian!” Lenata retorts as a wave of positive energy flows through us all and causes the Scro to scream.

The battle is long and hard as we trade blows back and forth with the Scro nightmare. Things turn for the worse when the creature plunges its hand into Vedis and black energy flows over her body, causing her to writhe in pain.

Little did the creature know that when one of us suffers the rest of us take up the slack with extreme prejudice. With renewed vigor we attack the creature with blade and magic until it finally begins to dissipate. The face of the creature is the last to go, and it uses its last moments to speak in odd-phrased Orc:

My people aren’t patient, I shall teach them patience.
My people are cowards, I shall teach them bravery.
My people think of today, I shall teach them of tomorrow.
My people dwell in blood, this requires no teaching.

We all gradually make our way into the dome through the mushy ground and slime. The room is so large that we can’t see the other side… definitely much larger on the inside than it was outside. Lenata picks up a stone and mutters a few words before it glows with a warm light that illuminates our immediate area.

“Word, since I’m able to see in the dark, maybe it would help if you could take me up so I can get a bird’s eye view of this area?”

“Your suggestion sounds reasonable,” Word replies as he helps Lenata perch on his back and flies up into the air.

We suddenly hear a slithering in the darkness and while the others draw their weapons, I decide that hiding might be a good idea right about now. Is that a rustling of wings I just heard? Something ripples in the muck as there’s a thump and skittering in the dark. I try and slow my breathing and keep to the shadows as I hurry as much as I dare along the wall to find an exit.

“Do you smell smoke?” Ef Utan asks Vedis when there’s a loud screeching noise and the head of a gigantic praying mantis looms out of the dark.

“Run!” Vedis yells as Ef Utan tosses the light rock away and runs. Fortunately the mantis seems to be attracted to the light, as it ignores them momentarily as it flails around digging for the rock. Unfortunately, it manages to strike Word in its attempts and sends them flying to the mushy ground in my direction.

“Hurry, this way!” I whisper to Lenata as she stumbles to her feet. “I think I found a crack in the wall!”

“Word isn’t moving!” Lenata moans as she kneels over the prone Psiforged and chants to her god for help.

I keep a nervous eye on the mantis and gasp in fear when the light stone goes out. “Come on! MOVE!” I yell as I grab Lenata and the now moving Word and shove them through the crack. “This way!” I yell and wave to the others before I jump through. Gods, please let them make it! The walls shake from the strikes of the angry mantis as Vedis and Ef Utan stumble through the rubble to join the rest of us in a new room.

Looking around I see that there are thankfully no more giant bugs in the room. There is a rather large and suspicious looking well in the middle of it, though. I cautiously make my way to the side of the well lest I wake whatever might be down there and read some ancient writing inscribed on the sides that seems to be a combination of Draconic and Ancient Imaskari. Strange… what would an ancient magic race like them have been doing here?

I’m able to pick up a few words here and there… mostly about the “Portal Lord” and an “Endless Dream.” It’s not till I reach the other side that I gasp. “The Imaskari were the ones who created Mulhorand?” I definitely have to read more about this race! As I make my way back around the well I encounter some language that I just can’t make out.

“Lenata, I think this is magical writing here. Can you decipher it?”

She clasps her hands together and mutters a phrase before her eyes begin to glow. “Let me see.”

After a few moments of perusal her eyes stop glowing and she turns to the rest of us. “There is a dimensional effect in action here… very high magic.”

“Dimensional effect… you mean a portal?” I ask eagerly. Lenata nods. I then carefully lean over the side of the well and defocus my eyes just enough to see the glow of the portal energy around the entrance to the well. I concentrate for a few moments and the words flow into my mind. Jump into the portal without fear when the Portal Lord is asleep! A vision of a large circular room with brass lamps and a sleeping figure encased in a smoky crystal comes to my mind.

“Well, it looks like all you have to do is remove fear from your heart and jump in!” I tell the others with a smile and take a step back up onto the edge. “It’s got to be better than here!” I say as I salute the others and turn to look into the darkness of the well. “Adventure awaits!”

…and with an excited whoop I am gone.